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John Fire Lame Deer, a true Heyoka

Updated on May 1, 2015

John Fire Lame Deer funny stories

John Fire Lame Deer was a bona fide Heyoka. A Heyoka is described as a "Sacred Clown". Many Heyokas do things backwards and this is for a variety of reasons. Heyokas receive their power from the Wakiyan Oyate (pronounced Wa-kee-yan O-ya-tay) or Thunder Nation. The Wahupa Goza is referred to as the Thunder Beings and both names are interchangeable to describe, the Thunder Nation, which are represented from the West.

The Thunder Beings are intercessors directly from God. Their purpose is to take care of the Earth. They purify the earth with their soft rains, they rejuvenate the root nation with their lightning, their thunder wakes up hibernating creatures from the winter sleep,

The Thunder Beings also have the ability to purify this earth by destruction, high winds, hard rains, tornados etc. This primarily happens to root out some sort of evil that is taking place in an area. This is why many fear the Wakinyan and storms.

Certain Heyokas can influence the weather. John Fire Lame Deer was one of these people.

Funny story #1:

There was a white man, who lived with Lame Deer back in the 1970's. He was seeking knowledge and had a strong interest in Lakota culture. He wore his hair long like an Indian, but his hair was blond, almost white. He was a very likable and nice man but very gullible. John Fire used to have fun with him all the time. Teasing is a big part of Lakota culture. One of Lame Deers sayings was "You have a brain, try using it".

This person wanted to vision quest, so one evening, John Fire said "c'mon, you are going on the hill". The appropriate arrangements were made and it was now very dark. Wrapped in his blanket and holding his Cannunpa (Sacred Pipe), Lame Deer put this man on the hill for an evening of continual prayer. When daylight came, this man realized that Lame Deer put him on top of the local garbage dump. Boy, did Lame Deer and the Lakota get a good laugh from this one!

The purpose of Heyokas is to help keep people's spirits up by getting them to laugh. Laughter helps people release anxiety and worries and helps healing too. Bad things can happen to good people and people sometimes become down and depressed. The Heyoka, through doing things backwards and other funny things, causes these people to laugh and lift them up.

On the flip side, if someone is mean or cocky, the Heyoka will show him up, maybe make a fool of that person, in order to humble that person and get them back in line.

Funny story #2

Drinking and alcoholism was and is a very serious issue among many people including the native people. The purpose of the following story is to illustrate how Heyokas do funny things and not diminish the seriousness of drinking.

One evening John Fire came home and he had been drinking and was very hungry. He came home late and walked into his dark very small home, reached into the sink and pulled out a bowl that still had some soup in it. He lifted the bowl to his lips making a very large slurping noise, every time he drank some soup. After each sip, he would say " Ahhh, that is good soup" This would repeat until he finished and went to bed.

The next morning,one of his relatives said, "We heard you last night slurping and saying Good soup" "Where did you get the soup since we don't have any?" Upon further investigation, everyone realized John Fire was drinking some soapy water that was in the bowl and not actually any soup! Everyone had a good laugh..

On a more serious note, in the 1970's John Fire Lame Deer was very concerned and upset as to how the Lakota were being treated on the Pine Ridge reservation and all that was going on at that time. It was a time of great conflict. He prayed and asked the Wakinyan Oyate (Thunder Nation) to intervene because bad things were going on and there was much confrontation with the government too.

The Wakinyan responded immediately and on June 9th the Black Hills flood of 1972 took place. Wikipedia states "On the afternoon of the 9th, substantial rains fell on the area, caused by an almost stationary group of thunderstorms". This was extremely unfortunate because hundreds of lives were lost in Rapid City and millions of dollars in property damage. There was no damage whatsoever on the reservations which is not a coincidence.

"Peoples lives are not to be played with" no matter how poor, how rich, what age or what race etc. All human beings need to respect each other and to this day all over the world, very few understand this basic principle. There are universal laws that supersede any man made laws and greater powers exist among the universe. Certain individuals are chosen or are able to converse with these powers and do great things. Unfortunately, most of these people no longer walk this earth.

John Fire Lame Deer with sacred Cannunpa


John Fire Lame Deer


Thunder Beings in South Dakota


Storm Clouds South Dakota


Storm clouds South Dakota



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